I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying to differentiate myself from my older sister. She was a cheerleader, so I was a tomboy. She moved to Hawaii, and I moved to Ireland. She chose the sun and I chose the rain—I’ll let you be the judge of who got the better deal (I still think it’s me).
Since my sister essentially lives on an island paradise, I’ve visited her a couple times and she recently repaid the favor by visiting me in Ireland. She packed the 1 sweater she owned and layered 3 rain jackets to serve as her ‘winter coat’. The leather leggings from her ‘Sandy from Grease’ Halloween costume were her warmest pants, and she wore a green hat, gloves, and scarf the entire trip—I teased her for looking like a turtle on its way to a rave. I suppose I shouldn’t judge her too harshly since the last time I was in Hawaii, I got an uneven sunburn reminiscent of a knockoff Jackson Pollock painting.
Other than the climates, the islands we live on both have thriving music scenes. In Hawaii, we saw Mike Love perform, and in Cork, we experienced live traditional Irish music in pubs. We also took the bus up to Galway and encountered live music pretty much everywhere we went.
Ever since I got to Ireland, several people have recommended that I travel to Connemara and I convinced my sister to go there on a day trip while we were in Galway. We planned it out (a rarity on this trip) and hopped on a bus to Connemara. The bus was making some strange sounds, but what bus doesn’t? Soon our bus driver pulled over and was gone for about 30 minutes, but I just figured he was getting something to eat. Yet, 20 minutes later, he pulled the bus over again and notified us that the bus is broken, we will not be going to Connemara, and there are no other busses going to Connemara that day. He showed us back into a nearby town and told us to catch the next bus back into Galway in a couple of hours.
I was already a bit bummed we weren’t going to make it to Connemara, and then it started pouring rain. Most shops and stores, including the tourism office, were closed. The town was called Oughterard (your guess of pronunciation is as good as mine), and it was supposed to have a nice walking path along the river. Anxious to salvage the trip, we walked all the way to the path only to realize the river had flooded over the entire walkway. Then, my sister stepped in dog poop and my phone died from the rain and cold.
A bit disheartened, we walked back into town and found a cute little pub where we got some tea to warm up before the bus came. Our waitress must’ve noticed our bedraggled appearance because she brought us approximately 12 biscuits with our tea. When the bus back to Galway finally came, the very same bus driver we had earlier could be seen chuckling at us from behind the wheel of a new bus. Honestly, I think I gave my sister a pretty authentic Irish experience.